Even in meditation we are told to bring our attention to our breath to help clear the mind chatter. It gives our mind something else to focus on. However, this takes it to another level not just focusing on the breath but how we breath. Bringing on the feelings of peace, relaxation, calming our nerves and removing our anxiety. Science now has research to back the benefits of this technique.
Mindfulness, tends to involve passive observation – “watching the breath” – whereas breathwork requires you to actively change the way you breathe. This includes ensuring that you breathe with your diaphragm (rather than the movement of your chest) so that you can fill your lungs with more air, while consciously slowing the pace of your breathing from your resting average.
Those slow, deep breaths set off a cascade of physiological responses that accelerate your descent into a more complete state of relaxation, compared to more passive mindfulness exercises.
“It acts as a speed ramp into the meditation practice, helping to calm the mind quicker so that you get more bang for your buck while meditating,” explains Richie Bostock, a breathwork coach based in London. “In fact, I call some of the routines I teach ‘Meditation on Rocket Fuel’ because of the profound effect it has on calming the mind quickly and getting you to that place of no-thought.”
Besides improving cardiovascular health, the slower breathing rate of six breaths per minute also seems to be optimal for pain management, according to the study by Jafari. This may be due to the psychological comfort that comes from slow breathing, as much as any direct physiological changes to the pain sensitivity. “We believe psychological effects, in particular changing one’s attention and expectancies, play an important role in the analgesic effect of these techniques.”
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